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UNIVERSITY OF CALIFORNIA.
CHRISTIANITY IN JAPAN
Dissertation submitted to the Board of University Studies of the Johns Hopkins University in conformity with the requirements
Doctor of Philosophy, 1895
of Christianity. .24
CHAPTER I Opening of the Door to the Gospel CHAPTER II Breaking up of the Barriers CHAPTER III Indirect Obstacles to the Spread CHAPTER IV Progress of the Work CHAPTER V Rise of the Nationalistic Church
CHRISTIANITY IN JAPAN INTRODUCTION.
Christianization of Japan does not simply mean a conversion of heathens, nor an uplifting of the ignorant to a higher enjoyment of civilized life as is often supposed by the
American public but
involves a far wider question.
an attempt to reconstruct the Oriental idea upon
the basis of the Occidental principle, or to implant the seeds of Christian truth into already cultivated and fertilized
soil, or, in
another crusade of the western
nations against the Asiatic nations in a different form and from different motives.
struggle between the Orient and the Occident
nothing new. For centuries the East and West regarded each other as irreconcilable enemies, and the borders of Europe were a permanent battlefield between these two antagonistic forces.
While they were thus struggling with each other there sprang up two distinct civilizations, each differing diametrically from the other. One, starting from the
of the Nile and the Euphrates, went westward through Europe and America and developed into the Christian religion.
The other, rising at the foot of the Himamoved eastward to the extremity of Asia and appeared in Buddhism and Confucianism. The one characterizes a free state the other, an absolute monarchy. One is a posi;
tive principle; the other, a negative principle.
diametrically opposed principles, the twins of the world's history, which fought for their supremacy for so many
centuries without ever
to peaceful terms,
today after each has
civilization in its
completed its will be the outcome
of this second meeting? Will it be the renewal of the old endless struggle? Can the East and the West never be
brought together under one common feeling of brotherIf this world was made by more than one creator, if Christ's gospel is intended for only one race of people,
the sensibilities of the Orientals and the Occidentals are so
constructed that they cannot share the same feeling in religion as well as in other matters, then this pessimistic view might be true. But as we believe in one God and one
all people, and as there is strong evidence gathered from different missionary fields that all rpen are capable of enjoying the same feeling in matters of religion, we have
good reason to believe that this second meeting is the beginning of the breaking up of the barriers which have so sharply separated the East from the West, the first step
towards the reunion of the sons of
hold before the family altar of Jehovah after of separation.
confirmed by encouraging signs.
This anticipaton does not seem to be Utopian. Already The world has under-
gone a great change since the two rival powers so mercilessly contested on the boundaries of Europe. Bitter feelings of enmity are fast fading away and a general friendly intercourse is more and more prevailing all over the world. Merchants of London and New York can invest their money in the markets of Yokohama and Shanghai today without
while the educational institu-
Europe and America have among their alumni students of the far East. Such prevalence of general friendly
feeling never existed before in the history of the world. At this favorable time, these two opposing principles
where every conan undertaking is most favorable the country, whose gate is wide open to any form of faith the country, where each one can speak for his own religion and criticize that of another with perfect freedom and where the leading men are very little prejudiced from narrow dogmatisms and intolerable theology.
in that enterprising country, Japan,
dition for such
great obstacles to the formation of the universal
kingdom of Jehovah on
earth have been thus far the absence
of an impartial nation, which would serve as an arbitrator, and the lack of mutual knowledge, together with narrowness The Western people regarded of mind, and prejudice.
everything outside themselves as "barbarism" and those of the East, in turn, boasted of their own civilization 'as the
only genuine one, each knowing in truth very little of the This fact was well illustrated by an incident in the other.
when that great Hindoo Buddhist, Dharmapala, asked the audience how many of them had ever read the life of Buddha. To this question
Religious Congress in Chicago,
only five or six hands were timidly raised in response out of that large body of so-called scholars and doctors of re-
we can judge the ignorance in regard on the part of the common people, who, nevertheless, do not hesitate to denounce everything foreign. But, in Japan, the people are comparatively free from such an egotistic exclusiveness, and they have more impartial and rational views in matters of religion.
to other religions
Taking now all these conditions into consideration Japan seems destined to be the special agent to accomplish
favorably attempted before, the of old prejudices and the fulfilling of the great plan of the Almighty to bring together the whole world into one common feeling of brotherhood and estab-
a pure and simple Christianity devoid of western super-
and narrow dogmatisms. Japanese Christians themseem to be conscious of this great responsibility, for their whole attitude is turning more and more toward this direction. This is shown in their repeated attempts for church union, and the simplification of church creeds; in their aversion to the sectarian idea and narrow theology and in their careful separation of pure Christianity from Americanism and Europeanism.
But here the question may
tians able to solve such a great
arise, are the native Chris-
problem? To answer this question, the editor of the "Church at Home and Abroad,"
other mission field in the world displays so much vigor, and offers so serious challenge to im-
posed dogma as Japan.
the latest anniversary of the
Society, the Archbishop of Canterbury the point in words as follows 'Well, then, there is
Japan. Here again, we see that we are on the eve of a discussion which may remind us forcibly of the theological discussion of the second, third, and fourth centuries.
Japanese are a philosophically minded people, an extremely independent people, an original people. They are not con-
tent to accept without question the results of disputes in the " x etc.' President Kozaki 2 also says on this
point: "Christianity in Japan has already reached a stage that no other missionary fields have ever attained. Their native Christians not only take a part in all discussions, but they are in fact leading all kinds of discussions, theological as well as practical. They are leading not only in all kinds
of Christian work, literary, evangelistic, educational, and charitable, but they are also leading Christian thought in
Such being the
growth and development
of profound interest not only to the Japanese and their friends, but to all who are earnestly praying for and seeking after the coming and the establish-
of Japanese Christianity
ment of the universal kingdom of God and His righteousness on earth.
Kozaki's address in the Congress of Religions in Chicago.
OPENING OF THE DOOR.
of the glorious success of
famous mission to Japan aroused great enthusiasm among Christians in America, and the question of sending
out missionaries to this newly-opened country, for the salvation of which they had been praying for a long time, was
But this enthusiasm was soon turned earnestly discussed. into disappointment temporarily when it was learned that Perry's treaty did not secure to the Americans the right of a permanent residence nor the exercise of religious freedom.
As long as this right was not secured no Christian missionary could establish a station upon the land, for the Christian
had not been tolerated
Japan for many centuries
because of a peculiarly strong prejudice which had a long history behind it.
story of the Catholic mission in Japan, how it was how it was expelled, is a familiar one. Suf-
to state here that the general hatred to the "evil sect" expulsion originated in the fear, well grounded
or not, that the Spanish government would, in combination with the Christians, form a conspiracy.
strictest and most far-reaching of inquisition was introduced by the government in system order to extirpate every particle of this faith from the
After tEis event, the
every citizen was required to send
"For details, see Mr. Okada's scholarly articles in the Shiggakai Zasshi (Historical Magazine), April, iSpi-Jan., 1892.
government a certificate by which the Buddhist priest guaranteed "The said person was not a Christian, but belonged to his parish." This was a well-devised policy on
in to the
the part of the government to make the inquisition thorough, for the Buddhist priests were the strongest rivals of the
who showed no mercy
and consequently the most zealous crusaders, to a suspected person. This law was
applied to all persons alike, but there was another which was applied only to those who newly renounced the Christian faith. It was called "Efumi," or trampling upon the picture. By it, a person who had repented, was required
picture of the crucifixion to ing his old faith.
under foot the image of the Virgin Mary, or the show his sincerity in denounc-
kinds of oaths were taken, one to the Japanese and the other to the Christian or "barbarian" God. The former was for the Buddhist believers, and the latter for the adjurers from the Christian faith to test whether they still had any reverence for their old God.
All books which had any reference either directly or indirectly to the Christian religion or any literature which
contained even a single word relating to God, Christ,
were prohibited from circulation under strict censorial auThese and other prohibitory laws were issued one thority. after another and "a system of rules for the regulation of this inquiry was drawn up in which the minutest details regarding the search after Christians and missionaries, their * arrest, imprisonment were carefully entered." They were not dead letters, but were practically executed with
government took was the closing up as the foreigners were permitted to
among the people and intermingle with them, it was impossible to root out the Christian faith. Hence, all for*
Gubbin's Review of the introduction of Christianity into China and Japan, Transactions of Asiatic Society of Japan, Vol. VI., p. 35
Opening of the Door
eigners, Christians or not, were ordered to leave the country except a limited number of Dutch, who, for the services
rendered to the government were permitted to remain on* a
small island off Nagasaki, called Dejima. The conditions on which this favor was granted were "They shall not hold
any communication with the
nor bring any
missionaries into the country, but will communicate every year any information concerning the 'kirishitan' sect, which
be desirable for his highness to hear." 5 Thus Japan cut off the friendly relation with the Western peoples and became a thoroughly isolated nation. Now,
people living so
seems unnatural that such an adventurous and progressive close to the continent should have remained isolated for so long a time. But this seeming un-
naturalness shows the intense hatred of the people toward
the Christian religion.
Such being the circumstances, had Commodore Perry ever attempted to obtain religious toleration, or even made the slightest allusion to it, he would not have succeeded in
that memorable mission, or at least, he could not have opened the country without bloodshed. Sagacious as he was he well knew that this was the most delicate question with
the Japanese government and so he carefully limited the sphere of his negotiation to the commercial matters, believing that "If," to use his own words, "one were prosecuted
to a favorable result, the door
success in the other."
would then be opened for Perry's prediction was right. After
departure the appearance of many foreign fleets, the repeated warnings of the Dutch, the news of the Opium
War in China, a better knowledge of the Western people, these and other forces combined, gradually convinced the government of the necessity of giving further concessions
United States Counsel General, succeeded in making a new and more favorable treaty by which the Americans secured
Trans, of Asiatic Society, Vol. VI.,
the right of residence and liberty of worship within their settlements. Thus, the prayers of earnest Christians in
America were finally answered. Thus, the door was opened again for the gospel in the fulfillment of the promise "Knock and it shall be opened unto you."
societies of the
the receipt of these glad tidings the missionary United States entered into the actual work
and sent out missionaries to the
larly appointed missionary
who appeared on
was Rev. J. Liggins, of the Protestant Episcopal Church of America who came to Nagasaki on May 2, 1859. He was soon followed by Rev. C. M. Williams of the same This was the first permanent Protestant mission church. established in this empire. 7 Before the close of the same year there were represented three churches of the United States, namely, the Episcopalian, Presbyterian, and the Reformed, in the persons of Revs. J. Liggins, C. M. Williams, J. C. Hepburn, S. R. Brown, G. F. Verbeck, and Dr. D. B. Simmons. But the prospect was very discouraging. At the
time of their arrival, the old ordinance against Christianity was still in full force and "missionaries soon found that they
were regarded with great suspicion, and closely watched, and all intercourse with them was conducted with strict surveillance." When they wished to learn the native language "no teacher could be obtained at Kanagawa until March, 1860, and then only a spy in the employment of the gov-
as a missionary in 1860,
Goble, of the Baptist Free Mission Society, who arrived had once before been in Japan in 1853-54,
but at that time he did not come as a missionary, but as one of the marines belonging to the fleet of Commodore Perry. Hence, he
cannot claim the honor of being the
In the islands of Loo Choo some British naval officers established a Loo Choo Naval Mission some years before the arrival of
Perry, and Dr. Bettelheim and Mr. Moreton preached to the natives for some time but this was only temporary. It was entirely aban;
See Hawks' Perry's Expedition, pp. 258,
Opening of the Door
who had come
In short, the missionaries "were regarded as to seduce the mass of the people from
their loyalty to the
'God country/ and corrupt their morals
was about this time that one of the foremost Mr. Kido, defined a missionary as "a man who men,
Japan to teach the Japanese
break the laws of their
country." In such a state of affairs the propagation of the Gospel was, of course, hopeless. Mr. Williams' letter of June 18,
1861, illustrates the situation of the time,
no proper missionary work to report. It may appear singular that so little has been accomplished, but the the antecedents of peculiar difficulties of our situation
Christianity in Japan, the jealousy of government, the sweeping clause in the treaty, that 'Americans shall not do anything calculated to excite religious animosity/ the ramifications of the
system of espionage, reaching everywhere,
alike the cottage of the poor,
and the 'forbidden
be kept in mind. When all these things are fully comprehended, it will be seen that great caution is necessary. false step may be fatal,
of the 'son of Heaven'
and surround us with such a host of
spies, that intercourse
with the people will be virtually cut off."
Proceedings of the Osaka Conference, pp. 30, 31. Adams' History of Japan, Vol. II., p. 146. 10 The Imperial Palace was so called. 11 The Mikado was considered the direct descendant of gods.
BREAKING UP OF THE BARRIERS.
Obstacles so numerous and systematic to the advancement of Christianity seem at first sight to be almost unconIndeed, among some Christian communities in querable. the United States the discouragement became so intense at one time that serious doubts were entertained as to the
expediency of having sent out missionaries to a country but 1 But a careful survey of the real nature partially opened.
of the obstacles will soon convince us that they were not so formidable as they seemed. The Japanese, as a nation, are
2 comparatively free from religious fanaticism. They did not hate Christianity because it was a religion. In other words, it was not religious fanaticism, but political expediency
which made them regard Christianity as a national enemy. 3 This fact was clearly observed as early as 1854 by the chaplain of Perry's fleet, Rev. Mr. Jones, whose statement sounded prophetic. He said, in answer to the question as to
"Apart from governmental influences I think there would be no great difficulty in introducing Christianity. * * * I performed funeral services on shore four times; once at Yokohama, twice at Hakodate, and once at Simoda in every instance in the presence of Japanese, and in most, when
See Proc. of the Osaka Conference, p. 36. In an address, inviting the united prayers of the Christians at home, the pioneer missionaries of the Church Missionary Society said in 1866: "Contrary to the general expectation, it has been found that the Japanese generally do not entertain a feeling of They even hostility to foreigners, nor are they bigoted in religion. pride themselves upon being less stiff." 1 See Adams' History of Japan, Vol. II., 146.
Breaking up of the Barriers
large numbers were collected. They always behaved well. I thus became known among the people everywhere as a
Christian clergyman, or, to follow their sign for designating me, as a 'praying man.' Instead of this producing a shrink-
had supposed it would, I found that I had by it in this respect, and this among officials decidedly gained * * * There was no seeming as well as commoners.
ing from me, as
was a minister of
government, however, beyond all doubt, is exceedingly jealous about our religion but the Japanese officials, as well as
the people, are so inquisitive and so observant of all that comes within their reach, that doubtless, after a time, they might be brought to see the difference between ourselves
and the Romanists." 4
Thus we can
see that the real nature of the obstacles
accidental rather than inherent; political rather than
Things political cannot, by their own nature, be so tenacious and permanent as things religious. They are subject to change according to the conditions of the times.
Therefore, while the hope for the success of Christianity in Japan was buried in almost midnight darkness, the dawn of a better time was slowly and unobservedly approaching upon
from unexpected quarters, and the
against Christianity, strong as the walls of Jericho, quietly fell from within by the pressure of the necessities of the
which brought about this innovation in the were many, but the following are the principublic opinion,
Kagoshima and Shimonoseki.
refusal of indemnity for the wrong perpetrated by the retainers of the prince of Satsuma to a certain Englishman
named Richardson, the British warships appeared Kagoshima on the I2th of August, 1862, and bombarded
In spite of the heroic defence of the Samurai the city
Hawks' Perry's Expedition,
and the required indemnity 5 was extorted. Shimonoseki also met with the same treatment from the combined forces of the United States, England, France, and Holland. These events opened the eyes of the proud Samurai, who, heretofore, had thought the expulsion of the "barbarians" an easy task, convinced them of the superiority of the western weapons and art of war and converted them
into earnest advocates of the western civilization.
II. The awakening of a nationalistic spirit. Just at time great national enthusiasm was aroused among the people because of the presence of so many foreign enemies. As is generally the case at such a time everything foreign
was regarded as something unpatriotic. This sentiment became so high that the statesmen of the time, most ridiculous
to say, entertained the idea of creating a purely Japanese re6 Buddhism, being ligion by the hand of the government.
also of foreign origin
close ally of the
likewise despised by the patriots. Not only did it lose the patronage of the government after the restoration, but was finally dispossessed of that important function of giving a
religious certificate to every citizen,
which once rendered
efficient service in the detection of Christians.
the very weapons, which was intended to weaken the foreign influence, strange as ft may seem, struck off one of the barriers to the
spread of Christianity. thirst after the western knowledge.
the country was opened to foreigners a knowledge of western affairs became a necessity to the statesmen. This led
some of the thoughtful men of the country, who, in later came to occupy the prominent places in the govern-
ment, to the study of the English language under the mis$500,000 from the of Satsuma.
Shogunate, and $125,000 from the
See the "Kokumino
Anecdote of Count Okuma, appeared
bun," Sept., 1893.
Breaking up of the Barriers
sionaries, although they regarded
them as national enemies. 8
But the frequency of intercourse gradually cleared away the mist of suspicion and finally convinced them of their erroneous conception regarding the real nature and purpose of the
to direct the
and some of them were given a place
relations with foreign powers.
lations with Christian nations
necessary for the gov-
ernment to respect, or
at least to treat their religion in a
respectful way foreign representatives also exerted great efforts to secure the toleration of Christi-
When the restored Imperial government anity in Japan. issued a new edict against Christianity, which said "The
is strictly prohibited; suspected should be reported to the proper office and rewards persons 10 will be given" and when several hundred people in a vil-
sect called Christian
lage near Nagasaki, called Urakami, were arrested and imprisoned on the suspicion of embracing Christianity, the for-
eign representatives made a strong protest against this policy as opposed to the law of comity between nations and as con-
Protestanism was suspected by the people equally as much As late as 1868 a pamphlet entitled "Tale of Nagasthe writ-
The Story of the Evil Sect," was published, in which "Compared with the Roman Catholic religion this
ant faith) is a very cunning doctrine indeed; although they try to make out that there is nothing abominable in it, they are really
foxes of the same hole, and it is really more injurious than the Roman Catholic doctrine." Adams' History of Japan. Vol. II.
day, studied English under Messrs.
Soyjima, the prominent statesmen of toVerbeck and Williams. Through
Count Soyjima, Mir. Verbeck later found an appointment in Kaisei Gakko, which afterwards developed into the Imperial University of
This edict was issued Oct.
beginning of the new
trary to the liberal promise administration. 11
the i8th of May," 1871, according to the Japan Mail, "the British Envoy,, Sir Harry S. Parkes, had an audience to take leave. The Mikado, as was natural, made use of the ordinary expressions of regret in the public
Sir Harry Parkes, in reply, thanked his Majesty * * * for his gracious words. The speech ended with the usual expression of a hope that his Majesty might be
spared many years to conclude the reforms he had so happily commenced. As a special mark of esteem the British Minister was also invited to a private audience in one of the pavilions in the park attached to the palace. Advantage was taken on both sides to speak with less formality than the
(Parkes) then recommended the Mikado to place full confidence in the foreigners in his employ, and he concluded by
observing that there were still two spots on the Japanese escutcheon which would have to be removed before she
could claim to rank with civilized countries, namely, the restriction of the movements of foreigners within what are
called the treaty limits,
cise of the Christian religion
and the prohibition against the exer12 by natives."
Although these efforts of the foreign representatives did not have the desired result immediately, yet the government became exceedingly cautious in dealing with religious
future administration, and the law
distinguished persons of special embassy composed the time was sent out in 1871 to the United States, and the F.uropean nations with two objects in view, viz the revision
of the existing treaty, and the investigation of social and
Anecdote of Count
See Adams' History of Japan, Vol.
Breaking up of the Barriers
former, the embassy was a failure, but in the latter, its success cannot be overestimated. The ambassadors submitted
government an elaborate report of their observations describing in the most favorable terms the social and political state of the western nations, and the influence of the
Christian religion upon society.
Such a glowing account of the western people could not but affect the subsequent administration of the government, and
this, in turn,
the spread of Christianity.
could not but react favorably upon Indeed, while the embassy was
way, that obnoxious law against the "evil sect"
removed from the public notice-board early in and from that time on, the exercise of Christian religion, though not publicly recognized by law till 1889, was no more molested by the state authority.
The Board of Foreign Missions
often gave assistance to many Japanese students in the United States. Messrs. Iwakura and Kido, during their ambassadorial tour, made
acknowledgment to the Board of
their kind assistance
generous conduct, which served to cement the friendly relations of the two countries more than all other influences combined. See Nitobe's United States and Japan, 166.
INDIRECT OBSTACLES TO THE SPREAD OF CHRISTIANITY.
the government opposition had at last been brokCould then Christianity march on through the length and breadth of the whole country converting the people in its own way without meeting a further opposition? Far from it. The removal of governmental interference only
brought Christianity for the
time face to face with
true antagonists to begin a series of
The first enemy which was found in the mental
life or death struggles. Christianity had to encounter characteristics of the Japanese.
These people possess a strong
ings of Christianity.
taste for abstract reasoning,
hence are directly opposed to the simple and practical teach-
Close observers will easily find this children. "I have often been utterly
astounded," says Mr. Dening, "at the logic-chopping power of Japanese youth of twelve or thirteen years of age." There' is no doubt that these peculiar characteristics are mainly due
"to the nature of the education imparted. The books which the Japanese infant students have been first taught to read
'Peep of Day' and 'Line
the Confucian classics.
Line,' so to speak
Fancy one of our infants repeating after his teacher at his first lesson such sentences as the
virtue, to renovate the people, * * * cellence.' The
the great learning teaches, is, to illustrate and to rest in the highest ex-
the object of pursuit is be wondered at that to such minds the plain account of the Cross became a stumbling block.
point where to rest being known, then determined,' etc." 1 It is not to
stimulate this speculative tendency
See Mr. Dening's
on Mental Characteristics of JapI.,
anese, Trans, of the Asiatic Soc. of Japan, Vol. XIX., Part
Indirect Obstacles to the Spread of Christianity
books of Europe and America, such as the works of Her-
bert Spencer, Huxley, Draper, Mill, Buckle, Alexander Bain, Thomas Paine, Robert Ingersoll, and others were freely in-
Writings of this kind were exactly fitted to the the naturally liberal minded Japanese. They were taste of eagerly received and extensively read among the young students. When, therefore, the missionaries came into controduced.
with the people more freely they were often placed in
the most embarrassing situation by their inability to give satisfactory answers to the questions raised by the young
in the Scriptures as depicted
students concerning the apparently contracted statements by the sceptical writers.
more complicated nature inhered
According to their con-
in the ethical idea of the Japanese.
ception loyalty and filial piety are the cardinal virtues around which all other virtues are grouped as subordinates. Now,
the seeming disregard of these duties in the Christian docappeared to them detrimental to the preservation of
moral order of
idea of death
tioned in this connection.
the Japanese may be menis a wide difference be-
tween the Japanese and the western people regarding the conceptions of death and future life. To the western people the question of future life is a very serious one and the most indifferent are often bought to penitential tears by the threatening of the final judgment. But such a question has very little effect over the Japanese. Their great ambition being to die bravely and honorably and leave behind them a
"fragrant name," it concerns them very little what they shall be after death. At least they pretend to be too brave to think of anything else but a glorious death. Such an act, therefore, as seeking after salvation
through prayer and supplica-
Many books were
written by the Shintoists and Confucianon this point. Mr. Yasui's "Ben Mo" was
the most popular one
tion as taught in the Christian religion
is regarded as somean act of cowardice and a lack of heroic thing unmanly, This is no doubt the bequest of the feudalism which spirit.
highly exalted the spirit of chivalry. Closely associated with this there are many noble traits which are woven into
the fabric of society. The most striking one is the kind disposition of the Japanese toward their inferiors and the readi-
ness to espouse the cause of the weak. In contrast with the western idea of applying business principles. to every affair
generosity forms the basis of society in Japan. of this custom on the part of foreigners often creDisregard ates great trouble. Either from the lack of knowledge, or
simply from mere carelessness, or from their habit of using colored domestics at home, some missionaries tried to employ, in the treatment of the Japanese servants, coolies and day laborers, the same iron rule to which they had been ac-
This was more than the lower classes of the
Japanese people, who, used to an easy service, could ordin-
that not only
inhuman, heartless, and cruel in direct opposition to the doctrine which they preach with their mouth, but their religion also was criticized as having no power
lamentable that such
thoughtless acts of a
few missionaries hindered so much the
cause of the religion
the opposition of the Buddhist beBuddhist religion was in a helpless condition about this time, being crippled externally by the withdrawal of governmental patronage and internally by the corruption of the Their systematic opposition to Christianity priests and monks. belongs to the next period.
lievers here, for the
must not, however, be supposed that no successful has been done during all these times. Before the end work of 1873, beside those missions already in the field, the Bap1 tist Free Mission Society, the American Board of Commissioners for Foreign Missions, the American Baptist Missionary Union, the Church Missionary Society of England,
the Society for the Propagation of the Gospel, the Methodist Episcopal Church, and the Canadian Methodist Church
entered into the country one after another and missionary
Nagasaki, Kanagawa, Tokio,
Kobe, Osaka, and Hakodate.
In these places, dispensaries were opened, schools were organized, and the Chinese Bible, and other Christian literature was introduced, scattered, and taught. Through these
means the people were gradually brought within the reach of the missionaries some prompted by selfish motives and
others honestly seeking after the truth.
named Yano Riu
H. Ballagh, at YoDr. Verbeck
baptized two men of high standing in the south of Japan. The circumstances of their conversion were so remarkable that it is worth while to mention them briefly. Before any treaty was made with foreign powers, a British fleet entered into the harbor of Nagasaki. Alarmed by the sudden ap-
pearance of the strange warship the government ordered the neighboring daimios to send their soldiers to protect the shore and at the same time to prevent the ship from com-
The Baptist Free Mission trusted their work in the American Baptist Missionary Union in May, 1872.
One of the commanders of the named Wakasa, while exploring the harbor on a small army,
municating with the people.
boat one day, found a small book floating on the water. He brought it back to his camp, and, after inquiries, he was
by a Dutch interpreter, that
was a Bible which
teaches us about God, the creator of the universe and His son Jesus Christ, the Saviour of the world. This greatly
awakened Wakasa's curiosity. Having learned that there was a Chinese translation of the same book in Shanghai,
China, he sent for
and finally procured a copy. After the service he induced four others to
Later they found But as they could
in the study of the curious book.
a teacher in Dr. Verbeck at Nagasaki. not come there in person, owing to the feudal duties, mes-
sengers were employed "going regularly back and forth between teacher and pupils, carrying inquiries and explications In 1866, as they came and went" for nearly three years. Wakasa and his brother Ayebe 2 were at last given permission to leave their services for awhile. Immediately coming to Nagasaki, they were baptized by Dr. Verbeck on the
3 day of Pentacost, May 2Oth. The year 1872 is one of the memorable dates
"In January, the mishistory of Japanese Christianity. sonaries at Yokohama and the English-speaking residents of
denominations united in the observance of the Week of Prayer. Some Japanese students connected with the private
taught by the missionaries were present through curiosity or through a desire to please their teachers and
some perhaps from a true interest in Christianity. It was concluded to read the Acts in course day after day, and that
the Japanese present might take part intelligently in the service, the scripture of the day was translated extemporane-
ously into their language.
The meetings grew
Wakasa died member
in 1872; but Ayabe is still living (1895) and of one of the churches in Tokio.
Progress of the
and were continued from week to week until the end of February. After a week or two the Japanese for the first time in the history of the nation were on their knees in a Christian prayer meeting, entreating God with great emotion with tears streaming down their faces, that He would give His spirit to Japan as to the early church and to the people around the apostles. These prayers were character;
by intense earnestness. Captains of men-of-war, Engand American, who witnessed the scene, wrote to us,
'The prayers of these Japanese take the heart out of us.' missionary wrote that the intensity of feeling was such that he feared often that he would faint away in the meetings. Half a dozen perhaps of the Japanese thus publicly engaged
in prayer, but the
number present was much
Japanese prayer meeting." "As a direct fruit of these prayer meetings the first Japanese Christian church was organized at Yokohama on
the record of the
March 10, 1872. It consisted of nine young baptized on that day and two middle-aged
been previously baptized.
men who were men who had
The members gave their church Church of Christ in Japan,' and
own constitution, a simple evangelical creed, with some rules of church government, according together to which the government was to be in the hands of the pastor
and elders with the consent of the members." 5 In September of the following year there was organized
with eight members through the effort of Rev. D. Thompson, of the Presbyterian church, the first Protestant church
in Tokio, the nucleus of the present
Chin Sakaye Church.
The members adopted the same doctrine and church government as those of the Yokohama church.
ary work there were some who, though not missonaries, did a noble work for the religion. In Kumamoto a group of
Proc. of the
Proc. of the
Osaka Conference, Osaka Conference,
6 young men, who were destined to form the future cornerstone of the Kumiai (Congregation) church, was, in the
midst of severe persecutions, converted in 1875 under the instruction of Captain L. L. Janes, who was invited by the prince of that place to teach the pupils of his school.
In Sapporo, a similar work was done by Prof. W. S. among the students of the Agricultural College and one of the earliest independent churches was established
by the teachers and students of the college. As the work was thus bcoming more and more extensive, the translation of the Bible into the language became imperative. To meet
demand Yokohama in
convention of missionaries was called at
1872, which resulted in the appointment of a
Bible translation committee which practically
January, 1874. of the Tokio Bible Translation Committee was also
30, 1876, at Tsukiji at a
similar committee under the
formed on October
translation of the
meeting of the
missionaries of Tokio.
The former committee undertook
Testament, and the
latter, that of the
"In view, however, of the number of missionaries of various denominations being much increased since 1872, the year of the convention, which created that committee (Yokohama) it seemed desirable that some new measures be
taken and arrangements made for the furtherance of the work of the Old Testament translation also." 8 Accordingly, a general convention of missionaries was called in Tokio on
the loth and I3th of
1878, and there
was appointed a
6 Afterwards they became the pupils of that inspired educator, Mr. Neesima, and they are now champions of the Christian religion
Dr. Clark came to Japan in 1876 by the invitation of governto organize an agricultural college after the plan of the Massachusetts Agricultural College, of which he was then president.
See Proc. of the Osaka Conference,
Progress of the
represented all Protestant denominaand to whose hand was to be entrusted the further work of translation and revision of both Old and New Testaments. By mutual consent the Yokohama and Tokio Translation Committees submitted their work to this
tions in Japan,
new committee, 9 which
newly-appointed committee, so that the translation might "come forth under the authorization of all Protestant missionaries in this country,"
sons continued in the
though practically the same perof translation, only under a
Testament 10 was
completed in 1880
six months, but the
after the labor of about five years
Old Testament was not finished till 1887. The members of the committee, who took the most active part in translation, were Doctors J. C. Hepburn, S. R. Brown, D. C. Green, and R. S. Maclay among the missionaries, and Messrs. Maysuyama, Okuno, and Takahashi 11 Their task was an exceedamong the native Christians.
"In this country," said Dr. Hepburn, ingly difficult one. senior member of the New Testament Translation Com-
"where from the earliest times the Chinese language literature have had such a powerful influence upon the cultivation and language of the people, it was, at the very first, a matter of considerable anxiety in what literary style our work should be brought out, to make it most acceptable and useful. The conclusion it was desirable to arrive at, was not difficult to be determined avoiding, on the one hand, the
was given power
to "select a
Committee and a Permanent committee or committees for the trans-
shall also appoint a
they shall assign the various parts of the work, General Revising Committee." Yokohama Committee had nearly completed the
translation of the
New Testament before it submitted its work to the Only from Ephesians to the end of the book was
of the translation largely
the Japanese members.
quasi-Chinese style, intelligible only to the highly cultivated, and, on the other hand, a vulgar colloquial, which, though
might make the Scriptures contemptible, style, which, while respected even by the so-called literati, was easy and intelligible to all classes. We thus adhered to the vernacular or pure Japanese, a style which may be called classical and in which many of the best books intended for the common reader are written." 12 "That they performed this task successfully is clear from the fact that fifteen years of progress in Christian knowledge and * * * experience have created no demand for its revision.
should choose that
Indeed, the Japanese Bible is already exerting something of same influence over the Japanese language which
Luther's version has had over the
German tongue." 13
the completion of the translation of the
Part of Dr. Hepburn's address given at the celebration of New Testament at the Shin
in Japan, 197.
Sakaye Church, Tokio, April 19, 1880. 13 Gordon's An American Missionary
THE NATIONALISTIC CHURCH.
Although Christianity progressed considerably during these periods and the number of communicants reached to two thousand nine hundred and sixty-five at the end of
1 I879, yet it was not till the native workers became the active cooperators of missionaries that efficient work was done in the interior of the country, and it was not till the
Japanese Christians became the leaders of propagandism that the Christian influence was felt among the people genThis is one of the singular features of the Japanese erally.
The truth is Christianity which we do not find elsewhere. that in other missionary fields the intellectual equipments of converts are mostly such that they naturally look up to missionaries as their superiors in
but, in Japan, a great
kinds of Christian work;
majority of the converts are intelligent and ambitious students who first came to the missionaries,
or Christian teachers, with an earnest desire of acquiring western knowledge. It is not, therefore, to be wondered at
that they soon came to overshadow the missionaries in all departments of work, evangelical, literary, and educational.
were mostly men belonging to a class Now, the men of this class possess peculiar characteristics. For many centuries "they have been trained to be faithful to their feudal masters even unto death. The spirit of patriotism has been handed down among them from
To them honor is everything; generation to generation. life and prosperity are of no account. They are indeed the
oriental knights, the spirit of Japan, the flower of the na-
Annual Meeting of the Evangelical
Alliance of Japan,
It was they who crushed the Shogun's despotic govtion. ernment and restored the reigning power to the sacred personage of long secluded Mikado. It was they who cast off the old wornout Asiatic system and adopted the vigorous form of European civilization. It was they who started
pushed the press, cried out for personal rights, etc. are far better educated than any other class. They They Beare no longer ignorant worshippers of dumb idols.
ing strictly trained to faithfulness to their feudal masters they will be more faithful to the Master of masters if He is
can reach both the higher and the lower. very class where
rank they may be the
2 expect to find a Saul of Tarsus." class it is plain that Such importance being attached to this the success of Christanity in Japan depended largely on the
winning or losing of
But very few missionaries underthey had they would not have been able
win over the men of this class, for "with all respect for the high motives which may prompt most missionaries to enter the field, it cannot be denied that too many of them are far from exemplary in their methods of work or in their intellectual
young men go
Too often, inexperienced, sanguine forth exuberant with the hope that with their
knowledge and experience they may be able pagan philosophy of its errors. The result is
that they find their scanty college education inadequate to the satisfy the intellectual demands made upon them by
better educated of the natives
their small spiritual ex3
perience insufficient to
guide the more consecrated." It is mainly due to the genius of J. Hardy Neesima,* the first native missionary, the educator, the patriot, and the reformer that the Samurai class was won over through the
Hardy's Life and Letters of J. H. Nessima, 170-171. Nitobe's United States and Japan, 130. 4 For the life of this remarkable man, see Hardy's Life and Letters of J. H. Neesima.
Else of the Nationalistic Church
5 instrumentality of his school, the first systematically organized Christian college worthy of the name, and later, by
his talented pupils,
whose advent marked the dawn of a new
epoch in Japanese missionary history, the beginning of the model church of future Japan.
It was providential that Christianity in Japan made its Had it been started from the beginning so fortunately. lower classes of people, who are ignorant, superstitious, and
consequently, dependent upon missionaries in all matters, the result would have been the establishment of American
and European Christianity with all its evils and weaknesses. Or had it been introduced by the head of the state, or by the higher classes, through mere political motives, the future Japanese church would have been a mere gathering place of formalists and hypocrites without spirituality and regenerating power. But it has begun from that remarkable middle, or Samurai class, which was alone able to establish a strong,
church of Christ.
for the first time, in the spring of 1883, a even the baptism of the Holy Spirit in the
ary way, and the young energetic Christians,, already well equipped intellectually, were thus still better prepared for
the future great responsibility.
was boldly established in November, 1875, in had been for a thousand years the capital of the Mikado and the center of Buddhism and Shintoism, having over The school was very successful. 6,000 temples and 10,000 priests. It has now developed into a university, having over five hundred
school Kioto, which
Masanobu Ishizaka was born
early Chinese, together with the
Tokio, Japan, in 1861. both Japanese and branches of education
under private teachers.
Later, English was also added. In he entered into the Yobimon (now the Higher Middle 1878, School of the Imperial University), but, in 1880, he moved
Tokio Anglo- Japanese College, which was then in Yokohama, and stayed with this school till 1889, at first as a pupil, afterwards as a teacher and business manager of
In 1889, he came to Albion College, Michigan, and received the degree of Ph. B. in 1891. Then he came to Baltimore and pursued graduate courses in history and politics for three years. His principal subject was history and his subordinate studies were political economy and jurisprudence.
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